- Jonathan Winters
Whitley Neill Original Gin Review
Updated: Aug 27, 2020
A bit of a throwback in the modern era, This is a classically styled gin, with added African botanicals.
Review Whitley Neill Original Gin
Made in: Liverpool, England, by the Liverpool Gin Distillery
Copper Pot still named “Constance”
43% alcohol/86 proof
Botanicals: Juniper berry, coriander, angelica roots, sweet orange peel, lemon gooseberry, orris root, and baobab.
Style: Classic Gin
When I asked my American friends about what things they they knew that came over to the US from Liverpool the first thing they mentioned were the Beatles, the second was the Titanic. One sank, the other became a sensation. Whitley Neill’s classic gin really should be the third, because its definitely at least the third product any gin drinker should know.
If you only know Whitley Neill from it’s sweetened flavored gins, please clear that memory from your cache, this isn’t that kind of gin. But one you’d say is VERY classic in the style of the best gins that existed before the modern gin revolution.
It hasn’t been here in the US long, but it’s a nice gin, made by a family who has been distilling gin for 8 generations, since 1762. This one is the product of that 8th generation distiller Johnny Neill who crafted it with some distinctly South African botanicals around 2005 before African botanicals really found their place in modern gin.
The unique botanicals were a tribute to Johnny’s wife who came from Africa. In each bottle you’ll find Cape Gooseberry, and Baobab - known as the tree of life. The leaves, fruit and seeds of this tree can be eaten, or used in food making, brewing and apparently distilling. Off the top of my head though this might be the only gin using Baobab that I’ve ever tried.
And to boot in comes in a rather classy looking black bottle.
Over ice I found the Whitley Neil, a very nice example of classic gin. It’s a bit more elegant than many similar gins and tastes, quite appropriately more like an artesian gin, than its mass produced counterparts do.
When you lift this gin to the nose you get the traditional blast of Juniper, and citrus.
Those flavors translate to the taste, but with a nice peppery bit of heat and bitterness (which must come from the baobab and gooseberry), and a whisper of of sweetness from the orange and angelica root.
It’s remarkably smooth on the tongue with the expected dryness of the alcohol and just the tiniest hit of oiliness.
Really an outstanding example of classic London dry style of gin. It’s not at all sweet but has a nice depth of flavor. Anyone who likes a classic gin will enjoy this and may well find it more refined than traditional bar staples.
Interestingly I found it more martini-like when I drank it straight than I did when I tried to make it into a martini, as the citrus nature seemed to almost vanish - and required that I add a twist, rather than an olive to bring it back.
It stood up well in a Tom Collins, made a good gin and tonic, but elevated a bit with some fresh mint, and created a very traditional negroni very well.
A good alternative to any classically flavored gin, it can easily slide into any bar to elevate your game a bit. As I mentioned above it’s a more refined gin than most, and it tastes it. I’d buy it to replace my Beefeater, Bombay Sapphire, and regular Tanqueray,
Overall rating: 94. For a classic gin, this one is way ahead of the curve.
Made from East India Company recipe, this gin's quality is definitely London Dry*, but the flavor profile is of a modern Gin
What you need to know about reviews: All my reviews are my honest opinions based upon my own personal tasting. I am NOT a paid reviewer, and no compensation was given, or expected. I may from time to time choose to do a second review and amend my opinion of a product, should I feel like it and find my review criteria has evolved, or that I’ve found it different at a later date. That said, as I’m unlikely to repurchase anything I thought was less than very good to excellent, it would be by chance or at the request of a distiller who though I rated them very unfairly - BUT even then, whatever you get will always be my honest opinion.